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Education correspondent Sue Littlemore
"A slight but continuing fall"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 April, 2000, 03:33 GMT 04:33 UK
Student figures 'hit by fees'
students
Written off: Student fees can be 1,025 a year
Fewer people are applying for universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland than last year, while the number applying to Scottish universities has risen.



The decision to replace up-front fees with payments after graduation seems to have been popular with Scottish applicants

UCAS
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), which published Friday's figures, made a direct link between the trend and the way fees have to be paid.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland fees are paid in advance but in Scotland they are not due until after graduation.

The Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) has discounted the alleged link.

Since the end of last year when up front fees were abolished in Scotland, applications to Scottish universities from local students have increased by nearly 20%.

Figures up to late March for the UK overall show applications are down, by 0.5% for school leavers and 5.19% for students over the age of 25.

Ucas chief executive Tony Higgins said the trend was significant because in December the number of Scottish applicants was 2.5% down on the previous year.


Tuition fees
For students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, tuition fees for those from better-off families will increase to 1,025 a year
Scottish students will pay nothing while they are at university.
He said: "Scotland was showing the biggest fall in applicants amongst UK countries.

"Now it is showing the biggest rise.

"The decision to replace up-front fees with payments after graduation seems to have been popular with Scottish applicants."

However, a spokesman for the DfEE said: "We do not believe the figures published today support the claim made by Ucas.

"Overall, there is very little change this year on last year."

The government welcomed other aspects of the Ucas statistics, which showed an increase in the numbers applying for nursing degrees and in applications to UK universities from students in south east Asia, an important export market for UK higher education which was hit by economic instability last year.

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See also:

03 Mar 00 | Education
Universities launch funding inquiry
15 Feb 00 | Education
Blunkett feels tuition fees pressure
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